Welcome to the Accessible Yoga Podcast where we explore how to make space for everyone in the yoga community.
Amber Karnes 07:49:02
This podcast is brought to you by the Accessible Yoga Association, a nonprofit organization focused on accessibility and equity in yoga.
Hi, I'm your host, Jivana Heyman, my pronouns are here on him, and I serve as the director of Accessible Yoga.
Amber Karnes 07:49:16
And I'm your co host, Amber Karnes, my pronouns are she and her, and I serve as president of the Accessible Yoga board of directors. Hey, Jivana How's it going?
Hey, Amber. That's all right. You know, I'm getting ready for this talk.
Amber Karnes 07:49:35
We, it's good to hear from you again. And welcome back to the podcast, everyone. Hi. Today, we're gonna be talking about grief. And our theme for programming for the month of February 2022. For accessible yoga is yoga of the heart, grief, trauma and healing. So we're here to kind of personalize it a little bit and talk about how are each dealing with grief and loss and things in our lives. But before we jump into all that, I want to what else do we want to talk about? Hey, how's your heart in the moment?
Like, I mean, this it's a lot, you know, I actually been having kind of a rough day, but yeah, I It's funny, because I'm, I'm more intellectual person, like I don't, I'm not so in touch with my feelings. So that's always hard for me. You know, I like to talk about things. So like, I'm excited to talk to you, but like, feeling the feelings is much harder.
Amber Karnes 07:50:35
I agree and overrated? No, that's just I deal with my trauma and grief through humor, which is sometimes a useful coping mechanism. I was telling my friend the other day, like, I really feel successful when I can, like, make my therapist laugh when I tell her about some really messed up trauma. And then I'm like, so what I'm getting is that you think I'm really funny. So therefore, I'm doing good.
Yeah. Well, I mean, I kind of feel the same way. Like, I really love to, like, turn my feelings into something else. Like, yeah, like, I like the idea of turning it into a joke or turning it into something I can teach about. But I think that they're all kind of like survival mechanisms, you know, maybe trauma responses, instead of just feeling the hard feelings. That's right. That's, that's just yeah, like, who wants to do that? You know?
Amber Karnes 07:51:31
Yeah, it is difficult, I think. So we'll jump into all that. But I want to, before we kind of get into the sharing part, I just want to mention the programming that accessible yoga has this month. And I'm not totally sure of what our release date is with the podcast. So I'm going to mention this stuff. And some of it may be recordings at this point, but you can still access those. We have an Austin a class with Kamala, it's all Hayward that is a trauma informed chair yoga class, which I think is amazing in sounds really excessive. She's
She's incredible. I love her.
Amber Karnes 07:52:07
Yeah, the workshop this month is with one of my favorite teachers, Michelle, Cassandra Johnson, who, you know, we're going to talk about different resources today. But one of my new favorite resources that came out is Michelle's book called Finding refuge, which is all about moving through individual and collective grief. And that's the topic of her workshop. And then we also have a community forum with a bunch of amazing presenters. And I don't know if you want to mention any thing about that.
Well, I mean, the Community Forum is a great place to come and share resources, it, it's kind of interesting how it's evolving. I mean, originally, we set them up as like, you know, professional networking sessions, but they, they're also very educational. So it's kind of a mixture now, of professional networking, resource sharing, and just learning and like, we had a great one in January on COVID. And yoga, that was really incredible. And that's there. We've also made them free now. So like anyone can join our community forums, even if you're not an accessible yoga ambassador, just because we want people to engage with this, these conversations and be part of the conversation. So you can find a link to all those programs at accessible yoga.org. And also just want to say like we were having this conversation on Facebook at the accessible yoga community. I'd started a thread over there just the other day. And there's some amazing resources there too, for people around these topics of trauma, Grief and Healing. I don't know if you want to talk about some of those names or just send people over there.
Amber Karnes 07:53:49
Yeah, like maybe you can just tell us a few of the resources that that you Want to call attention to you from that thread, but we'll also any of the resources we talked about in the podcast today. And that thread, we will link in the show notes. So if you want to find those links, just go to accessible yoga.org and click on podcasts and you'll find them.
No, well, one other people who will be presenting at our community forum is Molly Lannon Kenny, who does a lot of great work around Chicago, Chicago, like bedside yoga, it's really about Grief and Healing. And she's an amazing teacher. So I'm excited that she'll be part of our our community forum at the end of February. I also want to mention Karla Helbert, who commented a few places in that Facebook thread, and she's a great resource for yoga, grief and loss. I think that's the name of her book, actually, that yoga, grief, yoga for grief and loss by Karla Helbert. And yeah, lots of other resources are shared resources are shared there, people can head over and check them out. Karla even talked about my book as a resource, and I appreciate that my new book yoga revolution. I mean, I do spend a lot of time talking about grief and, and healing and service. And maybe I'll share a bit about it later. I think what we're going to do today is we're going to just talk about our personal experiences a little bit, and then we're going to do a little practice today on this podcast. Is that right?
Amber Karnes 07:55:17
Yep, that's right. So
you're going to lead some movement at the end of this pod? Well, towards the end of the podcast, and then I'll lead some meditation. Next, I'm going to read a short section from my book on grief. And then I'm going to lead a meditation from the book, as well. But before we do that, let's talk let's talk some more. How are you doing? Amber with your POA and grieve?
Amber Karnes 07:55:43
My grief and trauma and healing? Yeah. Yeah, you know, 2021 was a really rough year for me. And I experienced a lot of loss, a lot of two major injuries, surgery recovery, like a lot of uncertainty and doubt around my own work and, you know, tension and a lot of my relationships and big hard things in my family. And so it's just kind of been a lot. And I feel like I now I'm sort of reeling a little bit between that and, and like, seasonal depression stuff, which sneaks up on me every year. No, I know, it's coming. And so you know, I'm not gonna lie. Like, I've been really struggling lately. And so I'm kind of glad this topic came up, even though I think experiencing it is very difficult for me, but talking about things always helps. Um, yeah, for me, so. Yeah, I, I don't know, I think one thing we want to both kind of share, like how we're navigating, you know, the grief that we're both currently dealing with. And, you know, I'm not going to tell a bunch of specific stories, but what I will say is, you know, for me, I feel like having more than one, like tool in my toolbox to deal with this stuff is important. Because usually, I never, like execute perfectly the first you know what I mean? Like, if we know that, like, the, maybe like, best way to process grief is to like, actually feel your feelings and like, let them move through you without resistance and just embrace that you're having a bad day or, you know, whatever it is, I don't always go that route. And so I'm happy to kind of like, have multiple things that will help me deal. So, you know, we mentioned humor, like, that's definitely one for me. And I think I've sort of always been someone who copes with trauma, or grief, or frustration or heartbreak or whatever, with jokes, because I guess the way my brain works is like, well, if I can laugh about it, it's not going to kill me. You know what I mean? Like, I feel like sometimes, humor in this, you know, not everyone feels the same way about it, because I've definitely, like upset people joking about things too soon, or that they felt was a sensitive topic that I shouldn't have joked about, even when it's my own personal experience that I'm making the joke about, you know, but I feel like for me, my brain says, like, well, the jokes sort of, like, take something that's big and heavy that you can't deal with on your own and like, chops it up in these little bite sized pieces that whatever, I'll just knock them back. And it's not a big deal. And making a joke about something and blowing off something is not the same thing as feeling a feeling. But I do think that you know, it the way that humor like functions for me is that I can kind of make meaning out of something that I didn't have control over. Or I can at least use it as like, I don't know, fodder for something that feels better which is like laughing about it and it helps me to stay like less attached to that Story of whatever is going on, do you know what I mean by that, like, if I can make a joke about it, then I don't like take on the identity of like, someone who has been traumatized by this particular experience, whether or not you know, trauma happened, you know that I don't have to be someone that's like a survivor of XYZ. And I know that people find, you know, strength in those kinds of identities sometimes, but for myself, I find that when I get too wrapped up in the story of it, and like, that becomes like, part of who I am, it hits me different, and it sticks around longer, and it has different effects than if I can just be like, Oh, I'm like joking about that. Therefore, it's small, even though it might not feel small. So
Oh, yeah, it totally does remind me of something that I think is important. Regarding the topic of trauma, and like, you know, how we all we all have trauma of different kinds, we don't all have diagnosed, you know, like PTSD, necessarily, but everyone has some kind of trauma in their lives. It's just part of the human journey, and some more than others. And, and that are the trauma responses, which are like survival mechanisms that we use, I think, are not always bad. And so I think it's like, that's how we get through, like, being able to survive and get through something is good. Like, that's, that's a good thing. And so I think, I think we need to be careful not to judge our trauma responses, as always negative and just be just be honest, and see them. That's all it's just about seeing them clearly. And I, I kind of worry when we, you know, rate them as good or bad. You know what I'm saying? So like, yeah,
Amber Karnes 08:00:39
because it's working to a degree, you know, just like emotional eating can serve as something that really works and is really effective, and I think is a tool in the toolbox. When you rely on only one tool in the toolbox, then you need to be able to like check that and be like, is this really supporting me? But I think that I agree, like, you know, demonizing certain survival techniques that have like, literally worked for you in the past, if you look at, you know, you're still here, you're still, you know, functioning in these ways. I think it's important not to moralize that stuff, just like we shouldn't moralize feelings, right. There's not like, negative and positive feelings, it's like, that is when it becomes stigmatized, to be angry, or to be depressed or whatever. It's like, we have to have that allowance.
But I think sometimes the survival mechanism can cause us other prop cause other problems, you know what I'm saying? So that's right, that is when we need to address it. So it's, it's not, it's not bad, per se, but we need to be honest with ourselves and also look at, you know, could we find a healthier way, just that's more supportive for our own peace of mind? You know, because sometimes the trauma responses we have were created when we were children, you know, like, Well, now, I don't need that anymore. Like I can talk about this is a weird one, I'm going to say, but like, I've been dealing a lot with how I'm a people pleaser. And like, it's really hard for me to criticize people, like I get so emotional, when I have to, like, tell give someone some constructive criticism or negative feedback about something. And it's hard because I'm a manager of many people in the work I do. And, and I deal with a lot of people in my life, I have grown kids, and it's like, I really need to be able to give people honest, clear feedback, including negative, you know, or, you know, not always positive feedback, right. And I just, so it's so amazing to me, how emotional and, like, traumatized I get when I have to do that. And it's like, wow, like I have some there's some survival mechanism in there. Like, I know, that became out of something. Like I used that in the past, like, that got me through my childhood, I think in some way. Maybe like being Queer, like, I was, like, I was trying to just hide in a way, like when I was young and not upset anyone. I'm just saying like, that's where I think it might be from, I don't know, it may be more complex, depending on you know, the way my parents interact with me and stuff, but I just think I think now, it's not useful. It's actually causing me more problems like I, I don't need to worry about it. I can give honest feedback to someone and they can be upset with me. I don't need everyone to like me, it's okay. Like, I'm just trying to get over it. You know, and that's, that's hard. I keep getting stuck in that over and over again.
Amber Karnes 08:03:29
I think it is hard and I think that you know, many of us kind of do whether we call it people pleasing or what we call it like many of us have figured out ways over the years to like keep the piece and sometimes keeping the peace means protecting other people from the emotions that they may feel in a situation right like you may be hesitate to criticize someone or give them feedback. They're not going to like because you don't want to make someone feel bad you don't, or you're afraid of their, you know, angry reaction towards you or whatever. And I was actually talking to someone about this the other day that like, you know, maybe if you grew up in a household where there's not a lot of like room for you to express your emotions, genuinely, let's say like, if you get sad, you know, you get the sort of like, suck it up reaction or something like that, then you, you get used to hiding your emotions from people because you, you've been trained from a young age that it's like, not safe to express yourself that way. But then, when you're an adult in relationship with other adults, like, it's okay, if your partner is actually upset about something you did, like, I'm sure they upset you sometimes, you know what I mean. And like, Me, a big reaction for me is to, like watch someone be upset or be sad, or be disappointed in me, or whatever the emotion is, that makes me uncomfortable, and not try to save them from it. You know, like, actually let them experience the emotions that they're having, and not like, twist myself into a pretzel to prevent someone else from feeling something, you know, which is like, sort of a weird control freak thing to do. But I think stems from like you said, those like, survival skills of, you know, what's safe and what's not, or, you know, your emotions are too much, therefore, like, you try to kind of internalize those and not put them on other people. And so, you know, I think, I think for me, it can be helpful sometimes to understand, like, where those patterns are coming from, like, you know, you were kind of trying to guess a few minutes ago about like, oh, maybe it comes from this or that. But I think also, I feel like that's another place where I'm just kind of like, it's interesting to reflect on. And I actually don't want to get too caught up in the story of like, where did this come from? And why am I the way I'm, it's just like, is this working for me or not? And if not, what is the new way that I want to show up? And so I've kind of tried to like, this is something I'm actually really therapist. What?
No, get the story cuz I just, I just made me laugh. It's just like, kinda like, unravel the story. But I
Amber Karnes 08:06:13
think that came from it's like, not important. No,
no, I know, a lot of therapies not I mean, a lot of therapy is really about problem solving. And looking at, and answering the question that you just asked, which is like, is this serving me now? Like, I think that's really, it's great. In fact, I, I get to do a lot of therapy. You know, we do a lot of family therapy, because my daughter has issues. And it's really helpful, it's great to, like, explore different kinds of therapy that are not all based on that kind of classic idea of like, going back and looking at the story, like there's a lot of great therapy techniques that are really about problem solving. And so I just, I didn't mean, I was making a joke, but I do think if people are struggling, I really encourage you to seek out therapy of some kind, and to try different kinds of therapy. Like, I've been, I've been doing a lot of DBT, which is dialectical behavior therapy, which is really based on skills, it's learning skills to help you navigate life in a way that allows you to keep your own peace and stay centered, even when you're, you know, emotional or challenged in some way. And I feel like, I love that I love therapy that's really proactive, you know, about not just like, let's talk about it, but really, like, here's some ideas of things you could do instead, like, I think that's kind of cool.
Amber Karnes 08:07:31
Yeah, for sure. Well, I also want to say I second therapy, and I like that you said, like, tried different kinds of therapy, because there are so many different approaches. And I know, like some friends that have been like, Okay, I'll try therapy, and then they go, and they don't feel comfortable around the person. And it's like, yeah, well, sometimes you got to, like, try a few sessions to build that trust, or maybe that's not the right person for you. And so I second that, like, I know, accessing health care in, at least in the United States, which is where we are is really difficult. And sometimes mental health stuff is not even covered under insurance, but you know, there are sliding scale places. They're things like, Oh, my goodness, what is that? Cerebral, which is like, you know, you can pay a flat fee every month, that's self pay, but it actually is way cheaper than it would be for me to go through something with insurance and get things like medication management or you know, talk therapy and stuff like that. So yes, therapy is one of those very useful tools. And I would just say like on the, on the, the topic of like talking about it. I mean, that's definitely another tool in my toolbox. I think when it comes to dealing with grief and loss and all those things and not always just making jokes, but really being able to talk through his folks. And I would say, you know, my biggest sort of lesson that I've learned there is you need to know who is on your support team that you can really process that stuff with. You know, because not everybody is really, and I'll just use this word in quotes, like a safe person to share authentic feelings with, like, think about the people in your life who you've expressed yourself to, and then they tried to talk you out of it, like, oh, it's not that bad, or, well, you've had a great life, or you know what I mean? Like, sometimes you share with the wrong person, and then it's like, your feelings get dismissed. And that actually reinforces the stories that you tell yourself that caused this problem in the first place, you know what I mean? So for me, it's like, you really have to, like, kind of guard your heart in a certain way. And I think the people who I tend to share things that I don't know, I'm a little weird, because it's like, I'm a very public person, in some ways, but I'm also like, an intensely private person, and other ways in which I like, often don't really share my true thoughts or feelings with people casually. And so on certain topics, and certainly, like, you know, things that I feel like are traumatic, or that made me cry, or, you know, whatever. And so, I've really learned over the years, like, not everybody is on that team. Yeah. But you know, I
mean, I feel exactly the same, and I'm public person, but I have, you know, private lives that I don't share, and you need to have that support system, we all do, whether you're a private person or a public person, it doesn't matter, we still need that, you know, support network in our lives, a few people it doesn't like, it doesn't have to be a lot, you just like That's right. Even one person I think, can be huge. I think there's some, there's some research around that, actually, around, that I was thinking about research around isolation, and health, and they show that like one intimate relationship is really very healing. So I think that's important to just have one person even though you could talk to about these things. And what about what about the role of yoga? I mean, this is a yoga podcast. So I guess,
Amber Karnes 08:11:06
I guess we can talk about that? Well, I think like, that kind of brings me to the actually feeling your feelings tool in the toolbox, which is, you know, maybe not my favorite to reach for, but I think can be very effective. And I think there are a lot of tools and technology and yoga that allows us to identify and understand emotions and the role that they play in our lives and also, embrace the fact that, you know, as the quote goes, no feeling as final, right, that emotions are sensations in our body that that really do move through, much like weather, you know, like, where there's a storm sometimes, but there's not a storm 24 hours a day, you know, and that, like, if we, I think can sometimes learn to stay with that, and actually put our attention there, not in a judgmental way, or a way that identifies too heavily with it or whatever, that there can be sort of a well, my friend, Deb makan likes to talk about clean pain and dirty pain. You know, whereas like clean pain is like, it's something that you actually want to feel sad or angry about, right? Like, if someone I love dies, it's normal to feel sad at that time. Right? It's normal to feel anger over the way that like systemic inequity, probably prioritizes certain lives over others, I think that's a good thing that's like, that's anger and sadness that I actually want to feel, because it aligns with my values and who I am or the displays, like how much I cared about the person, you know. But then I think there's other kinds of pain where it's like, we take on an identity that shouldn't have been ours in the first place, or we, you know, have the grief of other people's expectations, or we have the pain of resisting actually feeling something, right. Like if I tried to just like, pretend that it didn't affect me in any way that my business and my work, life was totally disrupted and changed forever by the pandemic. I'm going to cause myself a lot of probably physical pain in my body, mental anguish, all of that stuff, because I'm pushing away reality. And I think anytime we start resisting reality and resisting the feelings that are actually there, that's when it kind of becomes this sort of chronic thing and not something that can actually be like, processed and dealt with. Do you know what I mean?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, I mean, I mean, yoga. I would say, the yoga was created to by people that were looking at ways to get out of the cycle of suffering, you know, the human cycle of birth and death and, and endless suffering that we're in. I mean, so I would say that's the whole point, actually of yoga is to look at how to how to, like, resolve that. But I feel like so often we use spiritual bypassing instead of really like looking at what the yoga teachings are telling us to do, which is to go deeper, you know. So yoga is not about avoiding the feelings, it's going into them. Like I had, I talked about it in my book a little bit. And it's one of the quotes that I think people are responding to, like I say, some, I can't remember what I said something like, yoga is not about like doing this fancy pose when you're when you're lying, on your mat in tears. That's when the yoga begins. And I think it's, it's when you're honest, like you said, I think that's what you're getting at being honest with yourself and learn to feel the feelings as much as I don't want to do that myself. Honestly. I think that's where you can be honest with yourself and look at, also, why am I suffering? Why am I in pain? And what is the story, I'm telling myself about it. And I think what yoga is teaching us is like, there's a piece of us that's untouched by all of that by all that activity. And again, that's not to bypass the suffering that we're going through. But to just remember, it's like, there's a part of us that's unaffected. And I think there's something really powerful about having one foot anchored in that world, which is, that's what I call spirituality, basically, just in the world of like, being okay. While at the same time really, like being honest about how hard life is, and painful and sad and how it can really suck. You know, I mean, so I think it's, it's like that duality like, like, both things being true at the same time.
Amber Karnes 08:15:57
Yeah, and I think, too, you know, the duality that I think is very present in yoga philosophy, really underscores for me, like the way that life is, you know, like, I think some people kind of speak in terms of like, are you happy? Or are you not happy, and it's like, well, no one is happy, 24 hours a day, even if they have a life that they would reflect on and say, I'm happy, like, I feel like life is always kind of that 5050 of like, there's hard stuff. And there's stuff you're not gonna like, and there's sorrow and loss and pain, and all that stuff. And there's wonderful things small or big, that happen every single day. And so it's never that binary. Like, I think dominant culture wants to train us in that way of binary and of hierarchy in, you know, judging everything as negative or positive when it doesn't always have to be so labeled, that sometimes, like, even hanging on to those labels and stories is what keeps us stuck. Rather than, like, actually being with the feeling or that moment, or being like, you know what, I'm just gonna have a bad day today. And this mood is really hard to shake, and I'm just gonna, like, lean into it and be miserable. And
it's both them as I'm saying, it's like, you're saying it's not the binary, but I think what it is, is it's actually what I call the duality is like, or maybe the better word is dialectic. And that's, that's the word I've been using dialectical behavior therapy. But, you know, dialectic is when there's two seemingly opposed truths. So it's like two things that are both true at the same time that are seemingly perfect to each other, which is that life is sucks, life sucks, and life is beautiful, and amazing. At the same time, like both are true, it's and you know, the, the both and, and I think that's what you're getting at, too. It's like, you can have a great life and also have really horrible days and painful feelings. And that's just the nature of being human. And that's what I work with my daughter on a lot to like that idea that things can be really hard, you can have really hard feelings, it doesn't mean that everything is bad. Do you know what I mean? Like I think there's a tendency for the mind, especially like, I think, I don't want to say when you're a teenager, but maybe, maybe
Amber Karnes 08:18:17
things feel more permanent when you're a teenager than they actually are. Do you know what I mean? Yeah,
there's a tendency to get to. Yeah, to go into that Black and white thinking. Like you're saying, of Yeah, it's all bad. But actually, well, it's bad and it's good. Like part of it is still okay. And you're going to get through this part to that next part. Yeah.
Garrett Jurss 08:18:45
We'll be right back with this episode after a quick word from one of our supporting organizations, some Samskara Yoga. Is yoga teacher training your next Step Samskara Yoga School offers small group fully live online or in studio yoga teacher training programs. Their programs offer a focus on safety, accessibility and the holistic practice of yoga. Learn to guide yourself and others through the Foundations of yoga and share the practices that have given you so much. Learn more at ytt.200. samskara.yoga.
And I think that's what yoga helps with. That's what I was trying to say like, to me yoga helps to give maybe a bigger picture. Like zoom out sometimes. I like to think about trying to remember who it was, I think it was Nischala Devi, I don't know if I've mentioned her work before. Yeah, I think she'll be on our podcast soon. She's one of my teachers. And she used to talk about the difference between walking down the street, and experiencing the world from that perspective, versus being in a plane in the sky, looking down on that same street. And basically how yoga and meditation can help to not change the reality of the experience, but change your perspective. So you see it differently. So it's still the same, like you still can be in pain, you can still have horrible things going on your life. But if you get a little bit of distance from it just through getting some space in your mind, or like processing or whatever it is, it just, it gives you a little relief, like Oh, I see. It's a long journey. Like this is one step on this path. This is a long road. Yeah,
Amber Karnes 08:20:37
I think that, that reminds me like another thing that I use sometimes, which I learned from Carlo Antheil, another teacher friend who likes to talk about feelings, which is a thought that I can practice. It goes like, Oh, this is the part when, right because we've all been through something and we like looked back. Like I'll use the example of my shoulder injury last year, like I crashed my bike and April, tore my rotator cuff is a long process of diagnosis. I finally had surgery in July, you know, I'm in pain every day all the time with you know, leading up to this. And then I had to wear a sling for two months. And it was like excruciating every day. And I remember being in it, like, feeling despair, like this is never ever going to end. And then now I'm you know, several months out and I'm just like, I remember being in it and how like, horrible it was. And it just felt like this is my world now. And now I look at and I'm like, Oh, that was such a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things like, you know, and I can look back and be like, oh, yeah, that was the part when I was wearing the sling. And I thought it would never end. You know, I can take that lesson of the like, Oh, this is the part when XYZ is going on and know that like, it's not always gonna be that way, you know, that like tiny little bit of perspective. And I think, you know, yoga for me is definitely one of those sort of like place where I find those life lessons of like, you know, looking back at something that I've engaged long term with, like yoga, or you know, even something like riding a bike, which is something I've done since I was a kid off and on. And remembering like when things were really hard or when things were really easy or even like a yoga practice, if you do like a similar sequence, how you know that some days, it feels like pulling teeth just to even like do one movement. And the next day, you're like, Oh, I could have done that 20 times, and it feels great. You know, and just like, I think sometimes when we're in the experience that we're having, we forget that like, I don't know, something else is possible. Do you know what I mean?
I mean, I also want to say though, like, there are there people who have chronic pain and who you know, it's, it doesn't necessarily get better. Like I don't want to be naive and say, oh, yeah, it's gonna be okay. No,
Amber Karnes 08:23:00
my experience is not universal. But
from my I appreciate what you're saying. I think it is universal in the sense that when we're in the depth of it, we have to remember like, this isn't going to be this way forever. It'll change in some way. We don't know how it'll change in some way, like, changes the nature of reality, like the nature is based on change. But like, yeah, it doesn't always mean last pain and sometimes could be more but it could be the just changes. It just shifts into a different form. And I think that's important to remember even if you have chronic pain, I think it does still shift and change over time. Yes.
Amber Karnes 08:23:38
Yeah. Um, let's see what else what else do we want to talk about?
If you're in a leader practice, you want to do that? Yeah,
Amber Karnes 08:23:48
we can do that. And I just want to say again, y'all check the show notes for this episode because we are going to link To a lot of different resources, and including the the programs that we have this month, and that thread in the community that Jivana mentioned, which had a lot of different approaches and resources and people, so definitely check that out. But yeah, we would love to lead a practice. So I'm just going to lead a little bit of movement, really gentle, it can all be done from a chair, I find that, you know, when I'm struggling with grief, or loss, or angry, or whatever is going on I, I find that like, a gentle approach often works the best because it does take a lot of energy to even, you know, feel these things. And so. So that's, that's how I'm gonna approach that today. And then you're going to read a little something from your book and lead us in a little meditation. Is that right? Yeah. Okay. So we hope that this is useful resource to y'all. If you if you have any feedback for us, if you want to chime in and tell us how you're dealing with grief, what are your tools in your toolbox, we'd love to hear that and share it with the community. So make sure you join us over on Facebook if you aren't doing that yet. Okay, you have anything else you want to share before we kind of jump into this other thing?
No, I'm excited to practice with you. Thanks. Okay,
Amber Karnes 08:25:22
great. So I'll encourage you to take a comfortable seat if you're not already in one. And so if you're practicing at home, you know, you want some kind of firm seat beneath you. So I am sitting on a chair, a folding chair bench works great. Maybe if you have something like a couch or a bed that you feel like you can have your feet on the floor, that could be a good solution to so find a comfortable seat take time to set yourself up there. And then I'll just invite you to close your eyes, if that feels good. If you don't want to close your eyes, dropping your gaze or just softening your gaze, so you're not focusing on any one thing can also be useful. Or maybe even find an object in the room that's with you that when you look at it, you associate it with pleasant or peaceful or happy memories, that that object is something that you like to focus on. And you can keep your focus there. So decide where you want to sort of bring your gaze and then begin to settle into your physical body. So I want to encourage you to move as much or as little as feels good to you, in this moment might not know which one is going to feel good. So you can feel free to experiment. But before we kind of settled towards stillness for a moment, just fidget a lot. Take a moment to make yourself as comfortable as you can and a seat. So for me, I like to sort of like rock back and forth on my sit bones. Or maybe, you know, reach up and move some things around like if you want to like scoop your butt out of the way so you feel more connected with your sit bones against the seat. Take any little adjustments that would help you to be more comfortable in your body. And then bring your attention to your breath briefly. I'm not going to do a long body scan here, I find that sometimes when I'm not feeling my best, I don't really want to dwell too too long. But I'd love for you to take a glance and kind of just notice what your breath is doing today. So not trying to change it or control it or anything yet, but just notice. How is your breathing? What pattern fast, slow, shallow, where do you feel it just take a moment and take stock
and just notice what is without bringing in a judgement about that, like what your breath should be doing or a story about why it's that way. Just take stock of what's present in real for you in this moment. And then I'll invite you if it feels good to bring your hands onto your body somewhere. So I really like one hand on my heart, one hand on my belly. And then just notice on the next few breaths where you feel movement with your hands and you can rest your hand somewhere else to like on your thighs. Both hands on your belly, both hands on your heart, something else. Just notice the interplay between your breath and your hands wherever you've placed them.
And then I'll invite you to maybe start drawing your breath out to be a little more calm, smooth and even. So equaling out maybe the length of your inhales and exhales or even drawing the exhale out a little bit longer than the inhale. And if you end up doing any of that, and it doesn't feel good in your body, just let your breath kind of return to its natural resting rhythm. No big deal, we're not gonna force or control anything today, we're just gonna notice and allow. So if your body feels good with these deeper, calmer, smoother breaths, stay with that for a few moments. And notice what shifted or changed, maybe your hands are moving a little differently. Maybe notice if you're holding a lot of tension in your abdominal muscles, or trying to suck your stomach in at all. And see if you can relax that even with your hands, just a gentle little like, I don't know, a little squeeze a little jiggle to be like, Hey, it's okay. This like, let that relate, relax and release a little. And see if you can draw in another deep breath.
And then let's take three big breaths together, in through the nose and out through the mouth with sound. So exhale, whatever is in your lungs, big breath in. Just let that go to more at your pace.
Okay, if you have your eyes closed, you can keep them that way, or just let them gently flutter open. And for today's practice, I really just want to do some simple joint rotations and rotations and twists. We'll just keep it in that category. So we're going to start with the neck and shoulders. So I'd like to invite you to begin with some really gentle neck rolls, bringing your left ear toward your left shoulder, just letting the weight of the head, sort of drop it over. And then a slow roll down, chin towards the chest. slow roll over to the other side, then just reverse it chin back down towards the chest. Left ear to left shoulder. And notice as you're moving back and forth. Do you feel tension Do you feel a difference from side to side again, not judging that orient too much about how to fix it. But just noticing how's your body doing right now? How's your neck feeling. And then maybe you want to continue these little halfmoon rotations or you could start kind of a full circle. So left ear to left shoulder, chin towards the chest, right ear towards the right shoulder and then base of the skull towards the back of the neck. So coming all the way around in a big circle nice and slow. How's your breath still breathing in and out. If you're taking those big circles, maybe just go a few in the other direction now.
And then back up to center. We'll move to shoulders now so big Shoulder Circles, you know, shrugging up towards your ears and rotating them around. There's a couple of things you could try here if you like. One is to bring your fingertips up to your shoulders and use your elbows right to draw like a big circle in the air. Sometimes that helps me to sort of get things moving, if my shoulders feel like they don't want to do a circle on their own. You could also play with the idea of shrugging all the way up to the top, squeezing them all the way on your back, lowering them all the way down and then rounding your back and bringing your shoulders together in the front. So making that big circle but being really intentional about smoothing it out and kind of connecting together in those, those four directions that your shoulders can move. And then switch directions. So go the other way. Shrug kind of the I don't know front direction. You get the idea. Go the other way. Whichever way you do Do the other way. Maybe take a moment to check in with your breath. Feels good to smooth that out a little. could try that.
And then go ahead and come back to center. Maybe take a moment to reset your seat, kind of reconnect with your sitting bones, let your spine grow tall. And then let's rotate through the wrists. So you can just bend at the elbows and then make circles with your wrists. Maybe you want to hold a gentle fist while you do that. could kind of use the hands like nod them yes or no. That's another way to kind of get into the wrists like you're gonna knock on a door sort of with that non English and really do kind of freeform here but just move your wrists in all the directions. And then take your hands and open your hands like shake them out like your make them really loosey goosey. Shake out your hands, flop them around, up and down, back and forth. And then flick your hands like you're trying to flick water off your fingertips.
Good, shake your hands out, let that go. Let your arms relax. And then let's do some big kind of torso circles. So I like to scoot to the edge of my chair for this. So I've got a little more room, especially if your chair has arms on it. And then bring a little bit of distance between your feet so the knees aren't together, they're kind of wide, that's going to give you like a little base to support yourself, bring your hands onto your thighs. And then we're going to circle the torso out over the legs. So kind of lean to the left side, Lean forward, lean to the right side, lean back. So you're making a big circle with your body but your hips are staying connected to the seat. And maybe you use the leverage of your hands on your thighs to bend your elbows. And so you can kind of even bring in a little cat cow sort of motion to this as you kind of reach forward with your chest, you could arch the back and look up slightly. And then as you rotate around to the back, bring that kind of Halloween cat shape. So let your arms you know kind of anchor on your thighs and stretch the upper back around the upper back, let the chin come towards the chest. So just finding what feels good here as you rotate around. And then go ahead and go in the other direction. Notice where you might be holding your breath or engaging some muscle that doesn't actually need to come to the party here. Maybe see if you can bring a little bit more breath into that area. And then come on back up to center. Take a moment to kind of shake things out. Like to say jiggle and stop sometimes so like jiggle everything around, stomp your feet and kind of reset your seat. And then let's actually do a couple of rounds of seated cat cow. So maybe hands back on the thighs. As you inhale, let your tailbone lift off the chair slightly, belly comes forward, lift your chest, look up. Exhale, round your back. So tailbone tucks under upper backgrounds, chin towards the chest, move back and forth with the pace of your own breath. Letting a breath lead the movement. So when your inhale is finished, then that's when you go the other direction. So inhaling and exhaling, letting the movement follow the breath.
On your next exhale, go ahead and round the back and then come back up to center on the inhale. And we're just going to do some gentle twisting motions here. So I like to start this with hands at heart center. On the inhale, breath, reach the arms up, maybe take a look up at the fingertips as you exhale, let the arms come down and rest on the side of the chair. Turn to the right side. Kind of just a little gentle twist. Inhale, bring the arms back up through center. Face the front. Exhale, turn to the other side. So we're not like holding the twist for a long time. Keep moving with your breath. Inhaling, reaching up, exhaling, twisting to one side, maybe bring your arms down for a little bit of leverage. Or you can do cactus arms or like goalpost arms and then inhale, bring the arms together in front like hands kind of in front of your face. As you exhale, you can open the arms and just turn using the muscles in your trunk to turn you rather than leverage of your hands. So a couple different options for the arms there as you move back and forth. With the breath
on your next exhale, once you've done both sides or you feel even inhale back up to center, and then exhale, relax your hands on your thighs. We'll just do a couple more little things here. Let's do some ankle rotation. So let one of your legs move towards straight, and maybe you just collect connect your heel to the floor. Or you could lift the heel off the floor and hold the leg up. But go ahead and start rotating through the ankle joint. So just drawing a circle, maybe with your big toe is another way to think about that. Just rotate the ankle in one direction. I like to wiggle my toes, kind of scrunch up my foot, spread the foot, like move, move the foot around as well while you're doing this rotations, and then go, excuse me go the other direction
okay, return that foot to the earth, and anchor through it and then extend the other leg, heel connected to the floor, or you can lift it up and then just rotate that joint
another favorite PT exercise that's similar to this is like write the alphabet in the air with your toe. That is a really great ankle and sort of leg warm up that I like. You could try that instead of the rotations next time. And then go the other direction if I didn't say that already.
And then go ahead and return that foot to the floor. Take a moment just to kind of shake things out jiggle, install, reset your seat. And we'll do one more thing here, which is like a little rotation for our hips. So if you've got both feet on the floor, I'm just going to start with my right leg. And what I like to do is grab onto the chair for a little more support. And you're going to want to like engage your core here. You're either going to draw like a little rainbow with your foot, I like to take like my right foot, and then extend it like we did before and like connect your heel to the floor, right, and then kind of draw a little rainbow arc. So I'm either just using my leg muscles and my muscles a little bit to drag my foot back and forth on the floor. Or if you like, you can start by having your foot connected to the floor and then lift your knee, rotate your hip open, and place your foot back down. And then lift up your foot, rotate your leg and come back over. So it's like pretend there's a yoga block on the floor. Or you could place the yoga block on the floor and you're picking up your foot, stepping over it, putting your foot down, pick up your foot step over it. This is interesting to do without demonstrating. Hopefully this is making sense. We want to rotate the hip joint, the femur head inside the hip socket, so you're either drawing little rainbows or doing that pickup put down thing could also just pick up your leg and do some hip circles, rotate your knee around. switch directions if you're feeling like you need to go the other way. But hopefully you're already going back and forth. If you're just rotating in a circle, you could change directions. And then put that leg down, come back to the other side. So either extending your foot, drawing some rainbows on the floor with your heel, maybe you're going to pick that leg up, step over something, pick it up, step back towards the center, or lift the leg and do some hip circles here. Notice what other muscles maybe your jaw your face are trying to work that don't need to see if you can just invite a little bit more relaxation there and more effort into the hip which is where we're working. And then go ahead and return that foot to the earth. Take a moment to reset your seat can come back to center. Reconnect your sitting bones with the seat beneath you. Let your spine be tall. And then close your eyes or soften your gaze. Maybe bring your hands back onto your body somewhere. Let's just return to the breath for a few moments. Just noticing any change in the breath from your sort of natural rhythm that you brought in. If present, you take a few moments just to bring in a little bit deeper breath. See if you can even know what's there. Take a moment to notice how your body is feeling quality of your thoughts. Your energy level is taken a moment to turn that attention toward yourself toward your body and breath with curiosity with acceptance.
And then I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to you Jivana To take us right into the next part.
Okay, thanks, Amber. That was, that was nice, you know, I know that I moved. I feel a little better. So I hope it's okay to go back into some of these painful topics. But I want to share
Amber Karnes 08:44:57
Yes, you can pause it here to
listen another time. Yeah, I was gonna share briefly I want to read a short section from my book yoga revolution. I mean, I chose this section because it's about the death of my mother. And I write about it in detail. And I go into grieving a bit in that section as well. And it ends with a short meditation. So I thought I could end with that today as well. But in this section, I just discussed the Bhagavad Gita. And I want to just say that what I talked about is how in the Bhagavad Gita if you haven't read it, there's the main character Arjuna kind of represents the mind and the individual's self. And then Krishna represents the divine essence. and I were just saying, in the section before, what I'm going to read is that these are both aspects of ourselves, right? Krishna, Krishna and Arjuna. And in the beginning of the Gita, you know, Arjuna, is basically struggling, because he's being faced with fighting a battle. And he finally gives up and then this is why I begin I'm going to begin reading on page 91. This section is called do not die when the body dies. So after Arjuna surrenders, Krishna smiles and begins to teach him about yoga. I love the idea of Krishna smiling, with the patient wisdom of an experienced teacher or friend, he smiles knowing that everything will be okay. Krishna then begins his instruction in yoga with a key lesson about the immortality of the Spirit. In one of the most well known verses in the Gita, he explains, quote, you are never born, you will never die. You have never changed. You can never change, unborn, eternal, immutable immemorial. You do not die when the body dies. It's a message I can hear enough times and was especially so when I was dealing with my mother's impending death. As my mother got very sick, I kept thinking that I needed to talk to her about death and how she felt about dying. I had this idea that talking it through would somehow make it easier for her and for me, so a number of times, I've tried to broach the subject with her. Each time, she would either ignore me or quickly change the subject. I eventually gave up, concluding that she wasn't ready to talk about her impending death and that she was in denial about it. As she got weaker, it became harder for her to speak. And for the last few weeks, she could barely open her eyes. I thought I'd lost my chance to help her process her feelings about dying. But I began to notice something amazing. Every time someone she loved was near her, she would struggle to open her eyes and summon just enough energy to say, I love you. I love you so much. This became a mantra for her in those final days. I love you. I love you so much, whispered through dry lips over and over. One day, my kids came with me to see her for what would be their last their final visit with their grandmother. I could see her struggling to wake up for them. And I heard her tell them how much she loved them with so much conviction that it made me cry. In that moment, it dawned on me that she was answering all my questions about death, rather than have an intellectual conversation with me about it. She was teaching me that love is the answer to all the questions and that loving is the purpose of life. I know my mother's love is still with me even though she's gone. But sometimes I forget and feel lost. So now I'm trying to find ways to unearth that love for myself. In a process that can be surprisingly hard. I realized that some people Never had a loving parent and may be used to that struggle. But for me, it's new, it's still new. I also know that the ultimate purpose of yoga and meditation is to feel love. I can use my time in meditation to examine where I've gotten caught up in the world. It's amazing how confused my ego mind gets convincing me that love will come from outside of me, when I get something or accomplish something, it's only through practice that I can can remind myself, it's safe to be love, instead of constantly trying to get love. So here's a little meditation, if you're interested, sit comfortably. And notice the breath without changing it. bring to mind someone that you love. It can be someone who has died or is no longer in your life. Try to picture them clearly in your mind's eye. begin to notice how you feel when you think of them. In your mind, say, I love you a few times.
If your mind wanders, just notice it and then come back to their image and say I love you.
So I'm gonna repeat that picturing a person you love someone you may have lost or is no longer around. And you can in your mind, say I love you to that person. And just allow the feelings to come if it feels safe for you.
And then take a breath. Notice how you're feeling.
And I think maybe we can end there. So Thanks, Amber. Thanks, everyone for listening and sharing this time with us.
Amber Karnes 08:51:13
Yes, thank you. Thanks for that. And maybe we won't talk too much here at the end. We can leave it there. But y'all check the show notes. And please do join us in the accessible yoga community. And thank you Jivana I always, always feel better after talking about this stuff with
me too. Thanks, Amber. Okay, bye, everyone. Thanks for joining us for the accessible yoga podcast. We're so grateful to be in community with you.
Amber Karnes 08:51:42
Please check out our website accessible yoga.org. To find out more about our upcoming programs including our annual accessible yoga conference. At our website. You can also learn more about how to become an accessible yoga ambassador and support the work that we're doing in the world.
Please subscribe to the podcast and leave us a review wherever you listen. We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Amber Karnes 08:52:02
You can also submit a question or suggest a topic or potential guests you'd like us to interview at accessible yoga.org See you next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai